Design, nightlife, fashion and fun are four of the key ingredients that make up one of the world’s liveliest economic hubs: Milan.

It’s always been considered the most international city in Italy, but the true, unique appeal of the capital of Lombardy can be found in the many distinctive districts contained within it: from the Navigli to the brand-new Porta Nuova via the timeless beauty of Brera.

Brera combines culture and history with a sense of innovation and modernity and a healthy dose of fashion and elegance. A place where the ancient Pinacoteca (in the image above) stands alongside one of the most unconventional modern boutiques in the world, Marc Jacobs. In Brera, just a few steps and a whole lot of curiosity will take you on a journey through time from past to future, all the while lost in the district’s endless alleyways.

The area is much-loved by art fans, and not just because of the presence of the Pinacoteca. The stationers Rigadritto is one of Milan’s most historic establishments, its vintage feel providing the perfect backdrop to virgin pulp paper books and beautiful pencils from all four corners of the globe that adorn its shelves. Through the window, one can spot the walls of the Accademia di Belle Arti, a place whose many artistic facets just demand to be explored.

Not far away from there is the Brera market, where – on every third Sunday of the month – visitors can find antiques, modern design objects, chinaware, paintings, prints, jewellery and watches. It’s the perfect place to put an alternative spin on your Milan experience.

If you want to enjoy some fresh air and a splash of green, Brera’s Botanical Gardens are the place for you. A precious haven of nature slap bang in the centre of Milan, the gardens contain an array of multi-coloured flowers and plants blessed with a rare beauty, while the chic Via Fiori Oscuri and Via Fiori Chiari are home to retro restaurants, fortune-tellers, fashionable bars, street artists and ultra-luxurious boutiques. There are few better spots to sip a cocktail and enjoy an evening of fun.

For a drink at any time of day, don’t miss Jamaica Bar, whose vintage style has been expertly brought up to date for the present day. You also get the rush of knowing you are sitting in an establishment once graced by celebrated thinkers like Ungaretti and Bianciardi. Also highly recommended is Pescheria da Claudio for some of the finest fish and seafood to be found in the city, while more traditional foodies will love Gastronomia Rossi & Grassi, whose windowfronts show off Milan’s finest delicacies like jewels in some luxury boutique.

If you want to give your wardrobe a refresh, head to the legendary Luisa Beccaria boutique in Via Formentini. Dream dresses shimmer in the window: for him, it’s an unmissable chance to buy his better half a gift she’ll never forget, while for her it’s the perfect place to spend the afternoon trying everything in the store.

In the event that your desire for fashion is not yet fulfilled, fear not. Walk a few steps and you’ll reach the sprawling Piazza del Carmine and its sumptuous Marc Jacobs store.

All that’s left to say is “enjoy it, enjoy Brera!”.